There’s always room at the top bar hive

 

160904b Saturn Queen

My lovely queen in my top bar hive “Saturn” on September 4, 2016.

As you may recall, I two top bar hives. My original TBH I purchased last year, which has 14 inch top bars and has overwintered. Then I caught a swarm in a new TBH my dad and I built, which has 19 inch top bars. Thus both are top bar hives, but they are somewhat incompatible. Here is an update of their status. Continue reading

It bee better to give than to receive

160821a Apiary

The yard on August 21, 2016. (c) Erik Brown

As my second beekeeping summer comes to a close, it is the time of year when beekeepers count the many pounds of honey collected from their hives, and answer the age-old question of how to handle the dreaded varroa mite.

This year I gathered my first honey, a grand total of nearly 6 cups worth. As another local beekeeper put it, the price per pound of that honey is pretty steep. Beekeeping equipment is not cheap, bees are not cheap, and our time is somewhat precious. All for a few jars of honey. Perhaps it is more about the love of bees and the joy of a hobby, at least for me. Continue reading

A hive divided against itself cannot stand

150411 Yard Front

The updated bee yard

On Monday, April 11, the early afternoon turned into a rather sunny day. Not very warm, but sunny and the bees were flying. I had a 5-hour flight to California in just over four hours, in fact I still had to pack my bags. I had been sick over the weekend, diagnosed with strep throat that very morning, and was taking antibiotics to get better. I figured I had an hour to spare. Clearly, time for my first split. Continue reading

The busiest bees have the most leisure

Jupiter

My helper G looking at the queen cups between the boxes of Mars.

This post was meant to appear a couple weeks ago with a short summary of my spring preparations. I’ve been crazy busy of late, and given that the advent of spring has taken a recess, I figure a summary of my beekeeping status will suffice.

Here I’ll just give an update on our existing hives. I’ve done some work getting the hives ready, and will save this for another post. Continue reading

He that would have honey must endure the cackling of mites

My view of varroa mites and how to handle them has evolved this past year. I started out as a beekeeper not wanting to treat for mites. Then became a beekeeper who wasn’t worried about the mites because he had first year hives. Then finally a beekeeper who monitored for mites and treated during our warm winter. Around November 2015 I started recording the mite drop on my two Langstroth hives every few days. With the onset of spring weather I stopped (this past weekend), so it must be time to post some results. I also have some temperature readings from my BroodMinder devices to compare with this data. Continue reading

It’s not spring until you can step on twelve bees

160309 TBH CombAs you can see from the frame covered in capped brood, the bees have been busy. The flowers are slowly appearing in a steady procession of color. Last year I carefully wrote down the bloom dates of many plants around our yard, so this seems a good time to start this up again. I created a new page for this, and have an update on my spring goals as well. Continue reading